FAS253 – Bloodsport (1988)

Stoo and Mikey celebrate Jean Claude Van Damme’s 60th birthday by reviewing his breakout role as FRANK DUXES in BLOOOOOOOOOOOODSPORT! KUMITE! KUMITE! KUMITE!

As well as reviewing Bloodsport, we discuss recent trailers including; JU JITSU and FATMAN! We also talk JCVD’s Top 5 movies AND his most underrated roles.

Blu-Ray Review – George Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon (Arrow Academy)

The story of a group of astronomers launched to the moon in a home-made ship, once they land, they meet the moons inhabitants – mad theatrical antics ensue!

If you were looking for proof that director Georges Méliès was a pioneer in special effects and filmmaking – A Trip to the Moon is a great example. This short film will be known by many for the iconic image of the face in the moon with a rocket in its eye.

When Arrow Academy announced the Blu-ray release of this film, I jumped at the chance to review this film. My interest in Méliès was captured when I first saw Martin Scorseses HUGO (2011), Méliès was portrayed by Ben Kingslay and bang in the middle of that movie we’re given a 10-minute history lesson on the life and career of Georges Méliès – it fascinated me.

I was given the Blu-ray disc only from the distributor to review on this occasion – it didn’t include the Long-Lost Autobiography: Father of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Cinema. But! The Blu-ray is good enough for me to talk about – at length!

Speaking of length, I was genuinely surprised that the films running was no longer than twenty minutes. This disc contains both the Black & White original (12 minutes) and the Colourised print of the movie (16 minutes). So, for a short film, that’s why you got a short synopsis at the start of this review. Now, I’m sure you would feel pretty miffed off if you’ve just shelled out £49.99 for the set, only to be given a cloth bound book and a 15-minute movie, thankfully it’s all about the special features.

Firstly, we have Le Grand Méliès (1952) – a short film directed by Georges Franju about the life and work of Méliès, Georges is portrayed by his son; André Méliès. It runs for 30 minutes following Georges life story. What I liked about this feature was that you are given the option to view the film with either the original audio narration in French with subtitles or listen to it dubbed into English. It was nice of them to give us the option. A great bonus feature, which is definitely worth watching.

The Innovations of Georges Méliès – new video essay by Jon Spira exploring A Trip to the Moon and Méliès’ career is a 12-minute feature with Spira talking over footage of Méliès work, we get to see footage from some of his other movies – some of which I am now more interesting in devouring.

An Extraordinary Voyage – is a 66-minute documentary on the life of Georges, his filmography and then we get an extensive look into the story of finding the colour print and a great detailed look into the restoration process. It also features some stock footage of Tom Hanks acting as Méliès for TV, its great footage, something I never knew existed – it’s a great special feature that beefs up this release.

The only thing I think we were missing from the special features is an audio commentary, I would have loved to heard someone talk over the movie giving us their take on the story, dropping us some facts or trivia about this wonderful piece of cinema history. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers!

Overall Arrow Academy have spoiled us with this cinematic gem, they’ve polished the best they can with a handful of well-thought-out special features. I couldn’t recommend it for it’s retail price, but if this was ever on sale or second-hand and you have the mildest interest in cinema history or silent movies – I would certainly recommend this blu-ray. Bon Voyage!

Film 4/5, Special Features 4/5

Films and Swearing Rating: 8/10

Blu-Ray Review – Bicycle Thieves (Arrow Academy)

Set in post-World War II Val Melaina (Rome), Bicycle Thieves (also known as The Bicycle Thief) tells the tale of Antonio Ricci, a father desperate for work to support his wife, Maria and his cheeky son Bruno. Antoino’s thinks his luck is on the up when he’s offered a job in advertising, pasting advertising boards with posters showing off the latest Rita Hayworth picture.

There’s only one catch though, the applicant must have a bicycle to do the job. Antonio looks at this opportunity as blessing and a curse, but the thinker of the family, Maria quickly makes the money by pawning their lining to get her husband a set of wheels. And we all know what happens to the bike right?

Vittorio De Sica delivers a wonderfully cinematic story, although tragic, it kept me engaged and willing myself to see Antonio reunited with his bicycle. I would have loved to have seen the reaction of audiences seeing this film back in the forties, how would they respond to the ending they were given? It left me surprised, whilst this time of ending isn’t unusual nowadays – but I imagine this would have caught people off guard back in the day.

Bicycle Thieves has been given a brand new 4K restoration from UK Label Arrow Academy; the special features include a feature length audio commentary from Italian Cinema expert Robert Gordon. I listened to a sample of the track, Robert is easy to listen to, he isn’t constantly talking over the film, but when he does, he does a good job at explaining the film and sprinkling in trivia when it’s relevant to the characters on screen.

This release also features two video essays, both last roughly twenty minutes and both were produced particularly for this release. The essays are narration playing over montages of clips and pictures and posters. The first essay is; Money Has Been My Ruin by critic and filmmaker David Cairns on Vittorio De Sica’s career and his filmmaking.

Secondly, we have; Indiscretion of an American Film Producer from film historian Kat Ellinger on De Sica’s relationship with Hollywood producers David O. Selznick and Joseph H. Levine and the blue prints of the American remake that never was. I did find this essay particularly interesting; the story of the proposed American remake was fascinating.

One last thing I want to bring to your attention, the disc also features an original trailer. Now it’s not your standard, graining 2-3 minutes theatrical trailer, there one is like a promo reel advertising De Sica s films, featuring Bicycle Thieves star Lamberto Maggiorani and Francesco Golisano presenting Miracle in Milan. It was a nice touch, a charming little watch actually.

Overall it was great to finally watch this movie and it had some nice special features to back it up, enough to compliment a one disc release. Un must per gli appassionati del cinema italiano classico.

Film: 3/5, Blu Ray: 4/5

Films & Swearing verdict: 7/10

FAS251 – The Long Good Friday (1980) and Mona Lisa (1986)

Stoo and Mike return to tells of tales of troubled Gangsters and Beauty and the Beast wi a tall thin black tart 😐

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